We all spend so much time prepping for the season and getting hype for the hunt, that sometimes it’s easy to let certain things slip our minds. Ever get to your stand and realize you forgot your release? Been there. That time you left your knife a few miles down the mountain in your truck? Yep, there too.
Sometimes these things are inevitable – they’re just going to happen. However, I’ve tried to get myself into somewhat of a routine to try to eliminate some of the “small” things that can go wrong – like putting my release on before I even get my bow out of my case, or putting my knife in my pocket as soon as I put my phone in (because we all know I’m not forgetting that … HA!)
What about once you’re in the stand though? I have a few to-dos there as well …
I always bring a rangefinder out with me – even when I’m hunting a spot I’ve been to a hundred times. One of the first things I do once I get in my stand is I start to range out stationary objects that seem to be within a reasonable distance – trees, rocks, fence posts, anything large enough and generally within the range of which I can shoot. One reason I like to do this first is that it helps me get my head in the game and start to focus. However, the main thing is that you just might not have the ability or the time to range things once the deer start moving – knock it out ahead of time and it can help you estimate distances and ultimately choose the right pin to make the right shot when the time comes.
We all know that safety harnesses are a big deal. But once they’re on, it’s easy to just forget about them. Think about it – you’re in a large metal treestand with straps and buckles hooked up all over you. If you’re not aware of where those buckles are in relation to your stand, you could find yourself in a situation where you see a deer come through, try to stand up … and end up being shocked by the metal “clang” of one of your buckles hitting the stand. Before you know it, the deer takes off and you never get to make the shot. Sound familiar? Sometimes things like this are unavoidable, but if you are diligent and make sure that your harness is on correctly and that all of the straps and buckles are in place, you might just save your hunt.
Faux Full Draw
This is a big one for me. A few years ago Justin and I were hunting game lands up in northern Pennsylvania. This spot was on top of a mountain, so we decided not to haul up any stands or climbers, and opted for a ground hunt instead. We sat for a while without seeing anything when all of a sudden I saw a flash down through the ferns – I whispered to Justin that I saw something and I thought it was a coyote. Lo and behold it was – and he was beautiful. Black, grey, with a little bit of red peppered through. Justin made a quick, high pitched noise and that coyote turned on a dime and headed straight toward us. I started to draw back and … my right knee was in the way based on the angle he was coming from and I had to adjust my draw by a fraction of an inch. That fraction of an inch was all it took, and that coyote took off in the other direction, never to be seen again.
Moral of the story? Be prepared. An animal can come in from any angle. When you sit down or set up in your stand, take a sec to hold your bow out in a faux full draw – make sure that you have clear shooting lanes, that you won’t draw back in to anything, and that you can draw back comfortably. This is definitely something to take into consideration when setting up stands and clearing things before the season starts – don’t just set up your stand and leave. Climb up, check out your surroundings, hold out your arms like you’re in full draw, and make sure that you’re happy with everything before moving on to the next one.
Man, all of this talk about treestands has me seriously ready for fall! Good thing this weekend is trail cam weekend up on the mountain – that should help us get through the next few weeks! Hopefully we’ll have some more cool shots to share like this fun one from a few summers ago …